Plan to let Beshear veto Medicaid budget fix came from House leaders, Stumbo says

05/25/2011 07:56 AM

While House Speaker Greg Stumbo declined to say whether he outmaneuvered Senate President David Williams during the legislative session, he confirmed that it was House leadership’s plan let Gov. Steve Beshear have the final say on the budget fix bill.

What happened was this: in a stalemate that had extended into a special session over how to plug a $100 million hole in Kentucky’s Medicaid budget, the House passed a Senate version of the bill that contained an across-the-board budget cut. The House then adjourned, leaving Gov. Steve Beshear the chance to veto some of those cuts to education and veterans programs.

That allowed Beshear to manage the Medicaid budget hole by bringing money from next year’s budget to this year. The challenge for his administration is to save that money by engaging in managed care contracts with private and non-profit health care providers.

Stumbo had never really taken credit for the move until this interview.

“After we ran it up the poll in Democratic leadership, we called the governor,” Stumbo said. (see the 1:20 mark of the video)

Once Beshear vetted the idea, Stumbo said he called House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover, who liked the idea. Then the leaders pitched the plan to the lawmakers.

Despite some consternation on the House floor about voting for something with no way to override his decisions, the bill passed.

“All the facts that were presented to the legislature supported the governor’s position, and that’s why the plan passed in really a bipartisan manner in the House,” Stumbo said. “The fears that were raised by the Senate Republicans were unfounded and not supported by the evidence. The evidence was overwhelming. The governor had been a good steward of reducing expenditures in government. The governor had been a good steward in managing.” (see the 3:30 mark of the video)

Stumbo said an across-the-board cuts to education would have been tougher on smaller school districts, like his home district of Floyd County. “I think the Republicans lost on that point,” Stumbo said. (see the 5:15 mark of the video)

He said his only regret from allowing Beshear to use the veto power to shape the Medicaid budget fix was that Beshear vetoed out the part of the bill that ended furloughs of state employees. The sixth and last furlough day in this fiscal year is Friday.

“There are really hard inequities when you look at the way the furlough program is being administered, particularly for minimum wage-say park workers or state highway garage workers,” Stumbo said. (see the 7:30 mark of the video)


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